Bullying tips Parent finds little help in fighting off school bully Markoe principal mum on incidents
Published: October 22, 2013
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ST. CROIX - For Ayanda Daniels, every day is a struggle as she sends her son to school to face what she claims is continuous bullying and sexual harassment - problems she says the V.I. Education Department has not been addressing with the needed urgency.
Daniels said her son, a fifth-grader at Claude O. Markoe School - has been dealing with being bullied for more than a year and little has been done to address the situation.
School officials said Dainels' complaint is being investigated and they cannot discuss the matter.
In July, the Senate Education and Work Force Development Committee held in committee legislation to create a bullying prevention, gang resistance education and training program in schools.
"I have been having this issue and this encompasses bullying, discrimination, sexual harassment and other issues while the school officials remain silent," Daniels said. "He has been punched in his face, and the teacher told him to go sit down and threatened him that when he is beaten up by the sixth-graders he better not come complaining."
She said her son also was kicked in the groin in front of a teacher and nothing was done until he chased the other students with a broomstick.
Daniels said she has tried to address the bullying issue through the school's counselor. She said there are channels in place for students to report issues they are having, but those channels are not working for her son, and she is getting closer to her breaking point.
"I don't know what else to do," she said.
School principal Kent Moorehead said Monday that because there is an ongoing investigation into reports by the boy and the allegations by his mother, he could speak about the case or the circumstances involved.
He said hearings will be conducted involving the students to address the concerns raised by all parties involved.
Moorehead said department policies adopted by the school are in place to deal with bullying involving students, and there are channels in place to deal with them.
"We have had some issues of bullying and harassment involving some of the boys, and even girls for that matter, and we have been dealing with them all," he said.
Moorehead said documentation will show that discipline issues are down at the school in recent years, and he attributes that decrease to programs and training that are working.
Daniels said in addition to bullying, her son is also being sexually harassed by another boy who is a student at the school who has been making sexual advances toward him.
She said her son had a discussion about the advances with the school's counselor, who tried to explain the differences in sexual orientation and accepting people for who they are. According to Daniels, her son had an outburst and said that he did not like the advances and wanted the boy to stay away from him.
He was recommended for suspension, she said.
"I try to teach my children not to hate someone because they are different, but if these advances make him uncomfortable, he should be able to express that," she said. "Suspension when there are serious underlying issues of victimization that led to his outburst, to me is totally uncalled for and sends the wrong message."
Daniels said her son had gone through some personal issues a few years ago that led to him being retained last year, and since then, she has been working with him to get his academic performance back on track so that he can be tested and considered to be placed in his correct grade.
Daniels said she has been told that an investigation will be done to determine the source of all of the issues and the extent of the issues, but she questions how fair the investigation will be.
St. Croix District School Superintendent Gary Molloy said he was not aware of the bullying issue concerning the student but was approached about other issues.
He said that all of the schools follow policies as outlined by the Board of Education and that the department's Safe Schools Division works with all of the schools to ensure that there is consistency and awareness, training and discussion.
The local schools have been following the national Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, and counselors have been sent for training on how to deal with the sensitive issue.
The program was developed by Dr. Dan Olweus, research professor of psychology for more than 35 years, affiliated with the Research Center for Health promotion at the University of Bergen in Norway. He is widely recognized as a pioneer and founding father of research on bullying problems and as a world-leading expert in the area.
"We have done continuous training on this and have also partnered with the State Office of Special Education to institute positive behavior programs at all of our schools," Molloy said.
The Education Department has adopted the Positive Behavior Intervention and Support program, which focuses on reducing behavioral problems, increasing academic performance and decreasing bullying behavior.
"We are about the children and doing whatever we can to do the best for them, and we make sure we do the best in the interest of all the children in all circumstances," Molloy said.
Daniel said she wants to see her son treated fairly.
"At the end of the day, it is not about if he is moved to sixth grade or not," she said. "I just want a fair assessment for him, and I want fair treatment and some way to stop the bullying."
- Contact Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.The Virgin Islands does not have an anti-bullying law.
The V.I. Board of Education policy on bullying covers most of the major issues or concerns addressed in most anti-bullying laws, including cyber bullying. View the complete bullying policy at myviboe.com.
Stopbullying.gov, a federal website managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is dedicated to addressing the issue of bullying. It offers information for teachers and parents about what to do in cases of bullying:
- Intervene immediately. It is OK to get another adult to help.
- Separate the kids involved.
- Make sure everyone is safe.
- Meet any immediate medical or mental health needs.
- Stay calm. Reassure the kids involved, including bystanders.
- Model respectful behavior when you intervene.
- Do not ignore it. Do not think kids can work it out without adult help.
- Do not immediately try to sort out the facts.
- Do not force other kids to say publicly what they saw.
- Do not question the children involved in front of other kids.
- Do not talk to the kids involved together, only separately.
- Do not make the kids involved apologize or patch up relations on the spot.
Get police help or medical attention immediately if:
- A weapon is involved.
- There are threats of serious physical injury.
- There are threats of hate-motivated violence, such as racism or homophobia.
- There is serious bodily harm.
- There is sexual abuse.
- Anyone is accused of an illegal act.